The 2014 Run for FOCUS is a benefit organized by the Orthodox Christian communities of the San Francisco Bay Area to raise money and awareness for Operation Lace Up, a program of FOCUS North America (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve). The RUN is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, 2013 at Lake Merced in San Francisco, CA.
Through Operation Lace Up, FOCUS has partnered with a major American shoe company to distribute thousands of new athletic shoes to impoverished children in 28 metropolitan areas across the United States. Support raised through the 2014 Run for FOCUS will allow FOCUS to continue maintaining Operation Lace Up and similar programs that provide aid to children living in poverty stricken communities across the United States.
The impact that a pair of shoes can make in a child's health and educational development is pivotal, as many children are unable to attend school simply because of a lack of shoes. Through this program, and with the help of public school districts across America, hundreds of thousands of children affected by homelessness and poverty will receive two pairs of brand new shoes per year.
At the end of this calendar year, the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) has published a report summarizing the activities of the ministry throughout the course of 2013. Titled "OCPM's 2013 Impact Report," it shows at a glance the many ways in which OCPM reached out to those behind bars during the last twelve months.
Their Website explains, "As 2013 draws to a close, we share with you our recent report highlighting the impact of OCPM's programs on those in prison and their families....We feel blessed to say that we have witnessed as one Orthodox community how the Lord Jesus Christ has transformed lives.
"We look forward to 2014, when we will launch some wonderful new programs that will involve your communities, families and churches. These programs will allow us to share the Faith with more people and draw new volunteers into our ministry."
Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) recently introduced several new podcasts. A Spanish-language podcast features homilies by Fr. Nicholas Andruchow, the priest of the only Orthodox orphanage in North America. Every Sunday Fr. Nicholas offers the homily at the St. Innocent Orphanage for boys. This is the opportunity to reflect on the Gospel from the point of view of Orthodox Christianity in Latin America," notes the AFR Website about Hasta la Gloria. "Through God’s grace this will help you ascend to the heavens."
Another new podcast was launched in cooperation with Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). Titled Sowing Seeds: Building Orthodox Campus Ministry, the episodes promise to help listeners "learn about the leadership, vision, and direction of the OCF with Executive Director Jennifer Nahas and AFR host John Maddex."
Beloved in Christ,
I write these words just after the 2013 Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village. The fellowship and book-signings were a chance to get to know and speak with some of the prominent people in the Orthodox Church. The presentations were truly educational and inspirational. An eight-panel display of "Art and Symbols of the Catacombs" shed light on the images that were most important to the early Christians. All together it was a memorable and valuable weekend.
Almost a hundred people participated in The Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village, October 31 – November 3, 2013. The theme was "Blessed is the Kingdom: Acts 2:42 and Today," and the goal was to answer the question, "Can we revive the spirit of giving for which the early church was known?"
Nisrine, 23, a Syrian refugee, huddles with her heavily bundled newborn daughter next to the welcome warmth of a propane stove provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Winter storms brought heavy snow and frigid temperatures to northern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley where thousands of Syrian refugee families live in flimsy vinyl tents or tenement buildings that are little more than concrete shells with no electricity or water. Lebanon has no designated refugee camps in spite of the estimated 840,000 Syrians who fled there to escape the civil war raging in their homeland. The severe winter weather and lack of adequate shelter leaves vulnerable families with young children exposed to the elements and threatens their health and well-being.
IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is responding now to the urgent needs of 900 Syrian refugee families living in Lebanon's coldest regions with the distribution of stoves and fuel for heating and cooking. IOCC is also providing new refugee mothers like Nisrine with pre and post natal care as well as health care for refugee infants and young children under five years of age.
Since March 2012, IOCC has provided humanitarian relief to more than 890,000 Syrian people displaced in their own country or living as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Armenia. For more information, contact: Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, 443-823-3489
On Friday, December 6, 2013, Metropolitan Philip issued a letter which was read on the following Sunday in all the parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese. In it, he expressed his deep concern over the recent abductions of the bishops, nuns, and children in Syria.
Dear Clergy and Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese,
Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of this Holy Advent season.
It is with great sadness that we have received the news of the abduction of our beloved nuns and orphans from the Convent of St. Thekla, Maaloula, Syria. It is inexcusable for such peaceful, God-loving and defenseless people of God to be abducted and displaced from their place of residence and worship, after having suffered so much angush for the past three months. St. Thekla Convent, through the intercessions of its patron Saint and the prayers of all its nuns, has been since its inception in the first century a beacon of light for peace, miracles, and the spreading of our Lord's message of love for all. It is unfathomable to hear that peaceful servants of Christ are being treated in such barbaric manner, as have Metropolitan Boulos and Archbishop Youhanna been treated.
We are inviting people to The First Scriptural Symposium to be hosted on January 16-19, 2014 by the newly-established Antiochian Biblical Institute (ABI), a ministry of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine (FSJD) here at St. George Cathedral in Coral Gables, Florida.
Several scholars will be in attendance from across the country to present papers on specific topics relating to the study of Scripture. Please see the attached flyer for more details. During the weekend, the ABI is honored to celebrate the 70th birthday of The Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, professor of Scripture for the last 43 years and founder of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS).
Please feel free to distribute the attached flyer to your parishioners and friends. All sessions with lunch are complimentary. Donations are appreciated. Reservations are required to properly finalize all arrangements. All are welcome! I hope to see you here in Miami in January, God willing.
The video below of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip's teaching on December 8, 2013, and remarks on the abducted nuns of Maaloula, has been provided by St. Nicholas Cathedral:
The following report was issued by the National News Agency of Lebanon on Dec. 3:
Orthodox Patriarch Yuhanna Yazegi on Monday leveled a heartfelt cry for the world to mobilize to free a dozen of Lebanese Syrian nuns that were evacuated in the historic Christian town of Maaloula in war-torn Syria.
"Our cry is addressed to the international community and the world's government to release Saint Taqla's nuns and orphans detained since yesterday," the Patriarch said.
"Detaining the nuns is a blatant offensive to people's dignity and the voice of peace throughout Syria and the entire Levant," he indicated.
Update: See also this report from the Associated Press.
David Alexander Tait, beloved father, husband, son, professor, friend, and devoted member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Oklahoma City, died tragically on November 19, 2013, while he was ministering to a community of friends in Chandler, Oklahoma. David was born on March 13, 1951, in Washington, D.C., and was the oldest of five children born to Charles and Katharine Tait. He spent his childhood between the United States and England, as well as Uganda, where his parents were missionaries.
He completed high school at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, before earning a Bachelor's degree in Public Relations at Boston University. It was there that he met his future wife, Laura Hubbs Tait, while she was a graduate student. They were married in Boston on June 26, 1976 and shared 37 wonderful years together.
It was a weekend like no other! For months we prepared for this special event, the highlight of this year, and our entire existence as a parish. Between September 27-29th, 2013, we were about to celebrate our 50th Anniversary as St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero!
Excitement built up when we knew that our beloved Metropolitan, His Eminence Sayidna Philip, would be presiding over the weekend's activities. We were also blessed with the presence of His Grace Bishop Antoun, Bishop of Miami and the Southwest, as well as His Grace Bishop Anthony of our diocese. We were also honored to have Subdeacon Rassem Massih, who accompanied the Metropolitan on this visit. Everyone from all ages were thrilled to be part of this historic celebration; a celebration of a parish that has faced obstacles in its history, but overcame them with faith and hard work!
The Winter 2013-14 issue of DIAKONIA is now available online. This issue highlights Diocese of New York and the Archdiocesan District, and the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, and contains:
- A message from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
- A Nativity message from His Eminence Archbishop Joseph
- Sanctified Schooling: Working Out Salvation within Education, by His Grace Bishop Thomas
- The Church at Home by His Grace Bishop Nicholas
- A message from Diocesan President Fadia Juzdan
- A message from spiritual advisor Fr. Don Shadid
...and more! Click here to download (PDF).
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — This young displaced Syrian mother of two now living in the southern city of Dara'a carries away new thick blankets and bedding provided to her by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with church partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA). As Syria's night time temperatures dip closer to freezing, displaced Syrian mothers forced to flee their homes empty-handed are struggling to keep their children warm and sheltered from the impending harsh weather.
This will be the third winter that the people of Syria have had to face since the conflict began, and resources to protect against the cold are dwindling as the civil war drags on. IOCC/GOPA is responding to the urgent needs of 255,000 of Syria's most vulnerable with the distribution of winter protection – heavy blankets, bedding kits, children's winter clothing, and shoes.
The first weekend in November was more than a normal weekend for the congregation of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Monessen, PA. The parish began the celebration of their 100th anniversary, first celebrating Great Vespers on Saturday evening. Bishop Thomas, Auxiliary Bishop of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, spoke after the service, encouraging us to honor our forefathers' and mothers' memories by working to keep the parish a healthy Orthodox presence in Monessen. On Sunday, Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Bishop Thomas and Bishop Basil, Auxiliary Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America. Following the Liturgy a 100th anniversary luncheon and program was held at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Hellenic Center.
St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church was founded in 1913 by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants as a place where Orthodox Christians were able to worship and seek salvation. The church was one of many that owes its organization to then Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny (St. Raphael).
On Thursday, December 12th, 2013 at 7:00 P.M., Fr. Aidan Wilcoxson and the clergy and congregation of St. John the Forerunner Church in Cedar Park, Texas (near Austin) will host a presentation by one of the world's premier Orthodox iconographers and craftsman, Aidan Hart. Hailing from England, Aidan Hart's work is displayed online at aidanharticons.com. The event is free and open to the public. A brief reception will be follow, and refreshments will be served, but we ask that you please make your own arrangements for child-care. For further information, please contact Father Aidan Wilcoxson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join with us this Sunday, November 24, 2013, to mark IOCC Sunday – A Day of Sharing, as we remember those who are in need by sharing our blessings. Please share with your family and friends about IOCC's life-changing humanitarian mission and make a donation to help us deliver your expressions of love to God's children all over the world.
Your continued support and compassion through IOCC will extend God's presence through projects that provide sustainable sources of food for impoverished families, a warm blanket for refugees, or the opportunity for a young child to learn and grow.
Together, we can achieve our vision of responding to those in need, to enable them to continue to improve their own lives and communities.
Please donate today at our Website. Your gift will make a difference in the world.
Yours in Christ,
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
On November 16, 2013, the Department of Convention and Conference Planning (DCCP) held its department meeting in Oakbrook, IL. The meeting was attended by the department co-chairs, representatives from Antiochian Events (Online Registration), the Diocese Conference Coordinators, the Department of Youth Chair, and the NAC Fellowship of St. John the Divine President.
During the meeting a presentation was made by Marriott International to discuss ways the hotel chain can best work with the department and it's Coordinators in order to receive the best possible prices for conferences and conventions. Other items on the agenda were a review of the new Conference Planning Manual, and presentations by each Diocese Conference Coordinator, as well as discussions with the Department of Youth and the NAC Fellowship on finding ways to increase attendance at Antiochian Archdiocese conferences and conventions.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Just four days after the most powerful tropical storm ever to make landfall blasted across the Philippines with wind speeds up to 195 miles per hour, the country is faced with the devastating loss of thousands of lives and millions of survivors across 41 provinces in a desperate search for food, water and shelter.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) emergency response personnel are assessing the urgent humanitarian needs for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has left a trail of destruction affecting an estimated 9.8 million people in the Philippines. IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is in communication with the Orthodox Christian Churches and ecumenical partners of the ACT Alliance member agencies on the ground to identify the most effective and appropriate responses to the catastrophe. Supported relief activities include shelter repair and cleaning up of debris through cash for work programs in the country, as well as the distribution of relief items such as clothing and hygiene kits. The need for emergency hygiene kits is especially great. Instructions on organizing a kit assembly drive can be found on the IOCC Website.
St. George Church in Troy, Michigan recently celebrated both its 100th anniversary and the burning of its mortgage. The weekend began at the Troy Marriott on Friday, October 18th, 2013 with meetings of the Antiochian Archdiocese Board and the Governing Council of the Order of St. Ignatius, which continued through Saturday morning.
Saturday Evening Great Vespers took place at St. George's at 6:00p.m. followed by a Grand Banquet and the Burning of the Mortgage. The parish was honored to have six hierarchs present: His Eminence Metropolitan Philip; Archbishop Joseph of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West; Bishop Antoun of the Diocese of Miami and the Southwest; Bishop Nicholas, Bishop of Brooklyn and assistant to the Metropolitan; Bishop Anthony Michael, Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest; and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Diocese of North America. All of these hierarchs' presence was welcomed with great joy.
On November 7, 2013, His Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid-America addressed the 430 guests gathered for St. Vladimir's Seminary's 75th Anniversary Gala, a black tie dinner hosted by the Board of Trustees at Glen Island Harbour Club, New Rochelle, NY. A 1973 alumnus of the Seminary, Bishop Basil noted that in speaking for the event, he had come home to "the place that made me all that I am."
The Seminary, he continued, has had a "sustained impact in Orthodoxy throughout the world." Most of the Archdiocese's hierarchs are alumni of St. Vladimir's Seminary, and the current student body numbers many Antiochian students as well.
St. Vladimir's launched the "Bishop Basil Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music" in 2010, when the Board of Trustees presented His Grace with an honorary doctorate and announced the creation of the program in his name. The Seminary's Alumni Association Board Chair Gregory Abdalah (Class of '08) has noted that, "Bishop Basil has had a great influence on the development of Byzantine Music in English.
Music Learn is proud to announce the release of Kh. Gigi Baba Shadid's latest Orthodox Christian music CD, Fight the Good Fight. Teacher, Antiochian youth worker, and songwriter, Gigi's passion is teaching with music; this is Gigi's fifth music CD, and the first one written primarily for teens and adults. Her other projects include: Fruits of the Spirit (2004), Celebrate the Feasts (2007), Middle School Math Music (2008), and The ABC's of Orthodoxy (2011).
Church school teachers and parents throughout the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world have been enjoying her music for the past ten years. It has proven to be an effective tool for teaching and reinforcing the eternal truths of Christ and His holy Church. "This new CD is filled with essential questions for our salvation," noted Gigi.
Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) is pleased to announce the addition of video podcasts to our audio programming. AFR started as an audio resource with a single streaming radio station. We then began featuring audio podcasts, as well as a second streaming station for our talk programming. Today we are the leading provider of Orthodox audio podcasts in the world. As of this week, we now also offer video podcasts, recognizing the portability of mobile devices and the demand for video content. We have plans for this area to grow in the same way that our audio podcasts have grown as we develop partnerships with more and more content providers.
The first of our video offerings is "Coffee with Sister Vassa." This is a ten-minute weekly program hosted by Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin, a nun of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) and liturgiologist at the University of Vienna in Austria. Presented with a light dose of humor, the program offers engaging reflections on the Orthodox Church calendar of the current week, the lives of the saints, scriptural passages, and Orthodox tradition.
Coming soon is our second video podcast "Be the Bee."A joint production of Ancient Faith Radio and the GOARCH Department of Youth and Young Adult ministries, this brief weekly video podcast will focus on the various ways in which God has infused all of creation with goodness and beauty. The title refers to the metaphor of the bee and the flies that was used by Elder Paisios to describe how Christians should approach life. The host of the program is Steven Christoforou, the GOARCH Youth Protection / Parish Ministries Coordinator.
In September 2013, the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America launched an extensive back-to-school program in 28 cities across the country, providing new shoes, backpacks, and school supplies to 193,000 children from homeless and working poor families. One aspect of this program, "Operation Lace Up," provides shoes for needy kids, and recently San Diego's Channel 6 reported on the NFL San Diego Charger players as they participated in the FOCUS-sponsored program at a local distribution center.
"We are equipping and preparing the poorest children in the country at a time when they are the most vulnerable—on their first day of school," says program manager and FOCUS Orange County Center Director Jacob Lee. "FOCUS' distributions will insure that children have the basic provisions they need to attend and participate in school."
In the meantime, St. Herman's Orthodox House of Hospitality (FOCUS, Cleveland) hosted "An Evening with Fr. Thomas Hopko" on November 4, 2013. One of the highlights of the evening was a video introducing the ministry, featuring Director Paul Finley and several of the men served by the House of Hospitality.
On Friday evening, November 1, 2013, the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York commemorated our father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny) the Bishop of Brooklyn, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America. A series of services for his feast day included Great Vespers with Artoklasia, the Festal Matins, and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn.
Deacon George Nashawati of St. Ephraim Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas, announces a fundraiser concert benefiting the people of Syria. "Hope, Humanity, Healing - A Benefit Concert for Syria" will be held on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 7:00 in the evening at St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston. The admission cost is $15 per person, and all concert proceeds will be distributed to the suffering people of Syria through the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Sister Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, and the St. Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus.
For questions regarding the concert, please visit St. Joseph's website, contact the church's office at (713) 973-7001, or send an email to email@example.com. Artists at the benefit concert will include: Lama Nashawati DeVries (my sister) and Tracey Parker: Duo Piano; Bassam (Deacon George) Nashawati: Violin; Mariam Haddad and Christine Yacoub: Voice; The St. Romanos Pan-Orthodox Chorale; and Osama Raad: drums. The program will include classical and liturgical music in addition to some Arabic songs made popular by Fairuz.